I made my first batch of 0.5 BTC coins today. First, I’m going to describe what I have, and then I’ll describe what I plan to do with them.
For today’s batch, I consumed 1200 private keys: all the ones with prefixes 121, 122, 123, and 124. In today’s batch, I concentrated on quality rather than quantity. The mindset has changed from producing collectibles rather than producing cheap proofs of concept. More time was spent on each coin. For the first time, I’ve washed the token blanks in an anti-tarnish solution for brass before stickering, so this should substantially increase the appearance of newness. (This also gets a large amount of the metal dust off of them). Second, I’ve been much more willing to discard a coin that had a defect (either in the materials themselves or the positioning just sucked), this will keep the quality more consistent overall. I will guess by sight (I haven’t quite counted) that I’ve trashed around 200 of them, so the actual number of coins made in this run is in the neighborhood of 1000. I’ll update with the exact count once I know it.
So I probably have 250 from each lot of 121, 122, 123, and 124, give or take.
I anticipate offering rolls of 50 on BitMit. Each roll will either come from a single lot, or will come from an equal distribution of the coins from all of the lots that did not go into single-lot rolls. The outstanding commitments I have accepted for 0.5 BTC coins will come from the no-single-lot group. For the initial run, I may deviate and offer some rolls of 25 to aid in the price discovery process for others – my intent is not to offer quantities this small ongoing, in an effort to help resellers.
Aside from discriminating by lot, the selection of the actual coins within a lot will be essentially random. The key circles get mixed up pretty well in the cutting process, so I expect the distribution to have a decent amount of randomness. The only bias I deliberately introduce is that I will pluck out keys that appear to contain words, patterns, profanity, etc. in their 8-character prefix if I happen to notice them.
I will be offering only two kinds of shipping: US Registered Mail for $50 and International Registered Mail for $75, for up to 250 coins. Yes, the actual shipping cost will probably be less than this depending on the quantity of coins, but this keeps it simple. To the extent you determine the shipping cost is too much, simply deduct that from the amount you are willing to bid. This keeps things simple for me, and hopefully biases buying behavior toward larger orders and fewer shipments.
Liability policy for lost shipments: Ownership of the shipment transfers from me to the buyer when delivered to the post office. The buyer takes all responsibility for loss of past the point of the mailing, however, this responsibility extends only to the Casascius physical product, not the BTC value. The coins are sent unloaded, and the BTC is returnable in the event that the package is provably lost or destroyed per the Registered Mail system. In the event that I refund BTC in connection with this policy, I will publish a list of all of the affected coins that will not be funded. I believe this provides the greatest balance of all of the competing interests given the current valuation of the coins and the most typical expected use of them as collectibles. It’s rational to believe they’re strictly being collected now, they’re not being “spent”… at all, and that the prices they’re being offered for, secondary buyers are far more likely to be conducting due diligence on any Casascius Coins before buying them.
Here is a new thing I am offering with each new roll: I will provide a link to download from my website a digitally signed PDF file for each roll showing a scanned picture of all of the coins. This is made by laying all of the coins on a flatbed scanner. This can be used to help establish authenticity (I imagine that counterfeiters might soon be interested in making fake Casascius Coins and this will help deter that and preserve the appeal of genuine ones). A counterfeiter might be able to counterfeit the number, but the unique attributes of each coin (the exact sticker placement, the exact positioning of the window and the characters seen through it, and any scratches/artifacts/etc on the coin) are going to be very difficult to fake.
Any auction or offer I make will always have some sort of digitally signed text attesting to its authenticity. Any payment address I ask you to pay will always be part of a PGP-signed message. Never pay an address purporting to belong to me unless you have verified the PGP signature.
I will be making a new line of cheaper mass-produced non-hologram coins engraved by laser for the purpose of evangelizing Bitcoin, so you don’t have to feel like you’re giving away a prize to leave a bitcoin tip at a restaurant.